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“Oh what a troubled airline! On Monday 20th Dec 2010 I...”

Written on: 08/01/2011

Oh what a troubled airline! On Monday 20th Dec 2010 I queued for 110 minutes to check in because of a faulty baggage belt at Gatwick South. Nobody thought to use one of the other empty zones to relieve the problem. It was freezing cold too. On check-in I was told we had an on-time departure! In the departure lounge the time changed from 14.10 to 18.00 and then to 20.30. No refreshment vouchers offered even when requested, which is contrary to EU regs. At 19.30 we got a 'go to gate', by which time the snow had started. The ground staff wouldn't let us board as the airport had now shut until 06.00 the following morning. Back to the warm departure lounge where we waited for half an hour before being told that we had to collect our bags from reclaim and go back to check-in. 90 minutes around a baggage carousel, with the fire alarm constantly going off (disgruntled passenger no doubt) and then ejected back into the even-colder check-in area. No Monarch rep - scarpered off home for fear of being scalped by 300 very angry passengers, some of whom had been there since Saturday from a previously canceled Monarch flight along with young children. Anyway Monarch desk sign said rep would be back at 04.00. So there we stayed, standing bolt upright with no food, no warmth, nowhere to sleep or even sit as some comedian appears to have removed almost every seat from the non-airside zones just to make the place as uncomfortable as possible. Our flight was signed up to leave on the 21st at 09.15 - so we thought. After a while a fellow passenger informed us that our flight was actually canceled and the flight on the board was a completely new one even though it bore the same number. Assumption is that Monarch haven't the brain capacity to work out that there are 1000 permutations of a 3 digit number. Swissport hand out a few dozen official cancellation notices - not enough for 300 passengers so, as it stands, I still haven't officially been told that the flight's canceled. Airport isn't closed as nearly a dozen flights were seen departing and arriving all night - so who's telling porkies there? Swissport tell us that our plane was late back as it had been used to play catch-up from the previous day but the snow arrived ahead of schedule. Who scheduled the snow I ask? Used a bit of noggin and booked the very last ticket that side of Xmas to Lanzarote on Easyjet. Bit of a risk one might think but it paid off. Hats off to Easyjet, military operation, 20 minute check-in and flight left on time even though the airport was carpeted in snow. Monarch; What were you thinking? You really can't go around mistreating your customers this way because, as sure as eggs is eggs, they won't come back and neither will their family, friends and colleagues. You need to get a rep in whenever a situation like this presents itself and please stop breaking EU regulations! Stick with the plan - if you use an aircraft to play catch-up then at least have the decency to offer the same service to the those hit by the knock-on. If the ops manager who made that decision to muck up my hard-earned vacation worked for me he'd have had his P45.

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